How To Refocus After A Swimming Hiatus

Whether the decision to take a hiatus from swimming is due to injury, illness, personal life struggles, or an unexpected pandemic, returning to the pool can be a difficult mental and emotional space for swimmers to navigate. Oftentimes, returning to a sport after taking a long break can be mentally challenging for athletes as they become frustrated with their performance due to the expectation of picking up right where they left off. The important factor to remember is to avoid self-condemnation and to take each practice one day – and one stroke – at a time. These five tips should help refocus swimmers’ mindset upon returning to the water. 

Avoid Negative Self – Talk 
Thinking or talking negatively about your training during practice can be detrimental to your progress and improvement. Remember that if you think you are performing poorly, you will perform poorly. Avoid concentrating on where you were athletically before the swimming hiatus. Instead, focus on positive thinking, setting short-term goals and establishing a determined mindset for daily growth. 

Be Patient
It is vital to take into consideration the fact that you cannot rush the process of rebuilding your athletic prowess after taking a lull in your training. Do not expect to be able to jump right back in with the times you had when you stopped swimming. Be patient and know that it will take some time to regain your energy and speed. Take heart in knowing that with tenacity, determination and hard work you will eventually achieve peak level performance in the pool.   

Set Daily Goals
Fixate on one goal in practice each day and do your best to carry out the skill exceptionally well. Whether it is working on perfect turns, streamline, underwater dolphin kick or a specific stroke technique, strive to execute that skill to the best of your ability throughout practice. Concentrating on one technique daily will help you establish a positive state of mind, which in turn will result in better swims.

Do Not Overdo It  
Pushing yourself too hard, too fast can result in burnout both physically and mentally. Build your training up slowly to avoid unnecessary injuries or feelings of disappointment and failure. Aspire to make the sendoffs in each set but do not beat yourself up if you cannot accomplish the objective right away. Talk with your coach to determine the best strategy for rebuilding your strength, endurance, flexibility and speed. 

Praise the Small Triumphs
Be sure to praise your triumphs and accomplishments, no matter how small. Center on a favorite stroke and top-notch skill you have mastered and commend yourself when you do well. Every time you complete an aspect of practice you are proud of, give yourself a mental pat on the back or speak a motivational phrase to yourself such as “I did it!” or “Yes!” as a reminder of the successes you attained. 

Keep in mind that achieving greatness, both in and out of the pool, takes time. The most important thing is to use that time to your advantage upon returning to swim training.